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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Raw audio from Gov. Blagojevich’s Thursday media availability - Raucous reporters

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

This just in… *** Governor threatens daily special sessions until Christmas ***

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

*** 11:29 am *** I told subscribers this morning that it looked pretty clear to me that Speaker Madigan wanted to wait until January before moving any more legislation, including the mass transit bailout. Come January, he’ll only need a simple majority to pass everything except a bond authorization bill. And so it goes

House Speaker Michael Madigan adjourned the special session this morning called by Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Madigan said there is nothing more for lawmakers to do so he’s sending them home until January. But he told them they’re on call to come back to work if legislation develops. […]

A Blagojevich spokeswoman says the governor hasn’t decided whether he will call another special session to keep lawmakers working.

Today’s special session was called last night. It was supposed to deal with transit and a capital bill. You can view the official proclamation by clicking here.

I’m told that a leaders meeting is scheduled for noon. No idea yet whether Madigan will show up. Rumors are rampant that Blagojevich will call another special session for tomorrow or next week. Stay tuned.

* 11:41 am - Wow

Unemployment in the Rockford region jumped more than in any other U.S. metro area over the past year. A report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows the unemployment rate in Rockford almost doubled since October 2006. Eight-point-one percent of workers there are listed as unemployed.

And double-wow

Sears Holdings Corp. reported a 99 percent drop in third-quarter profit Thursday on weak sales at its Sears and Kmart department stores and continuing investment losses under hedge-fund manager Chairman Eddie Lampert.

And another wow

The mortgage crisis will cost the Chicago area almost $4 billion next year in lost economic activity, according to a report. The report, released Tuesday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors , measures the effect of the crisis on employment, consumer spending and other indicators of economic output. In Chicago, the ripple effects will result in a $3.9-billion drop in gross metropolitan product, a measure of overall economic activity in the area.

*** 4:21 pm *** It was quite the press conference. Here’s a very brief summary

Blagojevich says he’s meeting with legislative leaders early next week. If negotiations continue to produce nothing, the governor says he’ll call daily special sessions until Christmas to try to force action.

* 4:38 pm -
LOL. Here’s more

“Now, you ask me about a hockey game last night. You could say, in fact, I’ll say, I prefer to actually go to a game that wasn’t rigged. In other words, let me say it another way, um, I prefer to watch a game that wasn’t rigged,” Blagojevich told reporters. “That vote last night, unfortunately, if you look carefully at that roll call, where some leaders of the Democratic caucus voted against it, suggested to me it wasn’t a serious effort to pass it.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Raw audio from yesterday - Blagojevich, Cross, Madigan & Hamos (Use all caps in password)

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

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Question of the day

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

* The setup, from

New stats in Washington, D.C., suggest that drivers are largely ignoring the District’s three-year-old ban on using hand-held phones while driving […]

But is this a surprise? When New York City first instituted a similar ban, cell-phone use by drivers dropped by 50 percent. But the numbers steadily increased after that, even as the number of citations increased as well. Same thing apparently happened in D.C. — an initial falloff, but then a return to pre-ban levels of cell usage.

A quick look around the Interwebs shows similar experiences in Connecticut, New Jersey, and elsewhere.

And this is the question that Governing asked their readers…

Should cities and states drop these laws that aren’t being enforced or followed? Or should they, for example, increase fines to make this a more serious offense?

Have at it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

* The Sun-Times takes up the debate today over Cook County Commissioner Bill Beavers’ statement that County Board President Todd Stroger can’t get his tax hikes approved “because he’s black.”

The editorial was unnecessarily harsh. Entitled “Clash clown,” it excoriates Beavers from the get-go

Cook County Commissioner William Beavers likes to call himself “the hog with the big nuts.” We think he’s nuts, all right, especially for injecting race into the county tax debate.

The editorial even quotes a random black person who agrees with their perspective…

“That’s ridiculous. There’s a big backlash against Todd Stroger. He came in and cut a lot of people then went back to the old patronage system and put in his own people,” said Alan Holman, 40, who is black and from the South Side

* And Mark Brown asks

Bill Beavers says Todd Stroger can’t get his county budget approved “because he’s black.”

That would be the budget that contains about $900 million in tax increases.

Does anybody think that might be part of the problem?

* At the risk of being flamed on my own blog, I’d say that the editorial is way out of bounds and that anyone who thinks that race plays no factor in Todd Stroger’s treatment in the press and his difficulties in passing a tax hike while (white) Mayor Daley has his own tax increase agenda is fooling himself.

* Mary Mitchell makes some excellent points in her own column today…

Still, there is a longstanding perception that what Beavers said is a sad fact — that if a white man were sitting in the president’s chair, commissioners would have passed the 2 percent sales tax increase without a ruckus rather than force Stroger to take a meat cleaver to the departments funded by the county.

She goes on…

Still, the perception that race is relevant when it comes to who heads up local government didn’t start with Beavers or Todd Stroger. It was no secret that the elder Stroger, who supported the regular Democratic Party in the face of a steamroller like the late Mayor Harold Washington, was installed in the top slot at the board because he was a loyal Democrat.

But contrary to off-repeated criticisms, patronage didn’t start with John Stroger, either. Black politicians didn’t invent patronage. They inherited it and learned how to make it work for their own constituents.

Interestingly, when the political pie was carved up, one of the region’s most powerful black politicians got the branch of government that primarily provides services used by people in the lower-income brackets.

Now, the old rules don’t apply — at least when it comes to the County Board.

So while Beavers’ comments were rude, he likely struck a chord with some blacks. After all, isn’t this the type of thing that happens all too often? As soon as a black person is in charge of something, the scope of his or her authority is challenged.

What’s going on at the Cook County Board is that kind of power grab. Stroger may have won his father’s seat, but his foes will be darned if they let him have even the amount of power his father had — or his clout.

The fact that many of Stroger’s harshest critics are angry white men has given Beavers’ outlandish remarks room to fester, and that will make it even harder for Stroger to pass a budget.

That’s unfortunate, especially since it will be Beavers’ constituents who will suffer.

* Look, there’s no doubt whatsoever that Todd Stroger is not the most competent politician in the world. But some of the criticisms have been far over the line, and Mitchell is right to point them out.

Are Stroger’s tax hikes excessive? Absolutely. Is Beavers a supreme goofball looking for an advantage in his nearly hopeless committeeman’s race against Sandi Jackson? Undoubtedly. But everyone needs to take a deep breath here and stop denying the reality that’s right in front of their faces.

Beavers certainly deserves criticism, but to say racism plays no role in this theater is patently absurd and flies in the face of how Chicago politics has operated forever.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Taxes paid by the bigs

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

* I’m not quite sure what to make of the list published in today’s Sun-Times. These are the current annual property tax bills of some Chicago heavy hitters….

Cook County Assessor James Houlihan (Lake View) $23,226.63

Mayor Daley (South Loop) $13,056.65

City Council Finance Chairman Edward M. Burke (Archer Heights) $8,631.55

Gov. Blagojevich (Ravenswood) $7,996.85

Cook County Board Finance Chairman John Daley (Bridgeport) $5,242.51

Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (West Lawn) $3,565.19

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger (Avalon Park) $1,296.02

Illinois Senate President Emil Jones (Roseland) $872.75


- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

The gift that keeps on giving

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

* Apparently, there was a huge pushback from Gov. Blagojevich’s office against CBS 2’s attempt to broadcast a story about his work habits. But if you didn’t watch it last night, it’s still worth a look, particularly the last bit about how Blagojevich was at a Blackhawks game while the House was voting on the transit bill he supported.

* The Sun-Times has more on the guv’s absence last night…

After being at the Capitol much of the day in pursuit of a mass transit bailout, Blagojevich quietly slipped out of the building with his press secretary and boarded a taxpayer-funded jet to get to the hockey game. He had been invited as a guest of new Blackhawks team president John McDonough.

Blagojevich “went there in his official capacity as governor at the invitation of the president in an effort to promote the Blackhawks,” said spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch.

The decision drew scorn and sarcasm for the unpopular, second-term governor.

“It certainly would have shown a little more interest in what we were doing if he’d have stayed in the Capitol,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

Rod Blagojevich is truly the gift that keeps on giving. As a Chicago TV station prepares to air a report that he is AWOL from his state office, he heads to a hockey game while his transit funding proposal goes down in flames. And after promising to deliver all his House Democratic votes on the transit bill, he winds up putting just two votes on the thing. Oops.

I really don’t know what I’d do without this man. There’s just no way that I could make nearly this kind of money with a responsible, even-tempered governor in charge. I may just endorse him for another term. Rod Blagojevich, governor for life!!! I haven’t checked, but I’ll bet that my CPA agrees.

* Using a sports analogy while preparing to fly to Chicago to see a hockey game during the roll call was another beaut

For Blagojevich it’s another political defeat. Earlier Wednesday he appeared outside his Capitol office trying to put a positive spin on the state’s lingering political gridlock, comparing his work on the mass transit bailout to the Bears recent overtime victory. That was when he apparently thought the plan would pass.

But this plan’s fate was sealed even before the House voted. Had it passed, it would have gone to an Illinois Senate where opponents had rounded up enough votes to ensure it went nowhere unless tied to a statewide construction spending program worth billions and likely financed with gambling expansion.

* His predictive powers are also slightly off

[The mass transit bill’s defeat] came just hours after Gov. Rod Blagojevich predicted the bailout would be approved.

“This is a big step forward,” Blagojevich said during an afternoon press conference.

He’s a true Cub fan. That statement was akin to predicting a World Series sweep before a single playoff game had started.

* The Tribune includes this exchange in its story about the mass transit flameout…

Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), the bill’s sponsor, told her colleagues the money is “desperately needed” to avert fare increases, service cuts and layoffs. She implored lawmakers to support the proposal because of an array of pension and health-care reforms.

But she also sought to lay the groundwork to cast blame on Republicans, noting she and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) were embracing a gas tax idea that was first brought up by Cross. Hamos complained she had assumed House Republicans who had first promoted the idea could support the proposal now, drawing taunts from Republicans who complained that calling the bill for a vote was a just a political game.

“Oh, Julie, come on. You know this is all a bunch of baloney,” said Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-Des Plaines).

Not noted is that Rep. Mulligan voted for the bill.

* More stories, compiled by Paul…

* Editorial: Gas tax swap latest sleight of hand

* Construction haunts transit debate

* Bethany Jaeger: No transit action sets the stage for another show

* Editorial: Seek an end to the agony in Springfield

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

Morning shorts

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

* Kiyoshi Martinez: Poor Blago health-care showing on Facebook

* State worker who leaked report questioned by FBI

* In These Times: Hounding the Bush dogs- the candidates who are taking on conservative democrats

Lipinski’s backers contend that his voting record aligns with his district’s socially conservative residents. But evidence suggests the district is no longer the Reagan-Democrat hotbed of his father’s time. John Kerry won 59 percent of the vote in 2004, and an influx of Latinos, who now make up 20 percent of the district’s population, has further solidified the seat as a Democratic stronghold. “It’s a lot more progressive than people realize,” says Larry Handlin, who has been blogging about Illinois politics at ArchPundit since 2002.

* Cook Co. Recorder of Deeds employees sought holidays cash tips?

A lump of coal wasn’t going to cut it for a clerk in the Cook County recorder of deeds office who hung photocopies of $1 bills above Christmas stockings next to cashier stations in what looked like a solicitation for tips.

The eight burgundy stockings, hung from green garland and emblazoned with the words “Joy” and “Peace,” gave the appearance the cashiers were seeking a little holiday appreciation.

* Outsider top choice for Chicago police superintendent position

The guy is not a cop and he’s not African American.

Word is J.P. “Jody” Weis, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Philadelphia, may be Chicago’s next top cop.

* Clout Corner: Mole’s dumper gets $55 million city deal

* Editorial: Prevent diversion of our water supply

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

Henry Hyde dies

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

* Breaking news from the Tribune this morning…

Henry J. Hyde — known for his courtly manners, oratorical skills and historical knowledge during 32 years as the conservative voice of the western suburbs in Congress — died today, according to the office of House Republican Leader John Boehner. He was 83.

While often seen as a throwback to a more genteel era in Washington, Mr. Hyde was a key figure in one of the capital’s most divisive episodes, leading the House Republicans in their successful impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s Capitol Fax (Use all caps in password)

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

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* Happy Thanksgiving!
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* Caption contest!
* Crossing the line
* Moody's warns Illinois
* The Credit Union Difference
* *** UPDATED x1 - Franks responds *** Uh-oh
* Then and now
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